Canal Cruise

Enjoy the perfect view of Amsterdam’s highlights from its canals.

TravelCurious Tip

Floating down the canal is a wonderful way to discover the historic city. If you want to intersperse the cruise with some on-land sightseeing, buy a ‘hop-on hop-off’ pass from Canal Bus.

The Venice of the North

Amsterdam is a land of canals and bridges - respectively, over 100km and 1,500 of them. 

Amsterdam’s canal system was first built in the 17th century to a careful plan: the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht were laid out in concentric semicircles, with the Singelgracht forming the outermost defensive canal. The canals, strung with radial bridges, offered a form of transport and water management for the city’s rapidly expanding residential neighbourhoods.

In 2010, the canal belt was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are no fewer than 1,550 monumental canalside buildings in the city - so a cruise offers plenty of sightseeing.


Princes, Lords and Emperors

Prinsengracht, the longest of the canals, is full of legacies of the Golden Age - the opulent period in which Amsterdam was the world’s wealthiest city. Noordekerk (Northern Church), Noordemarket (Northern Market), Westerkerk (Western Church) and also the Anne Frank House can all be seen from here. Keizersgracht’s Homomonument commemorates the victims of homophobic persecuction. Herengracht’s fashionable Golden Bend is teeming with grand mansions.

The canal and street of Zwanenburgwal, in Amsterdam’s centre, is one of the city’s most gorgeous, and adjoins the lovely market of Waterlooplein: Rembrandt lived here, as did the philosopher Spinoza. Another stunning spot is Brouwersgracht, which boasts lavish apartments converted from warehouses which used to store imported spices and silks from Asia.

Built in 1995 in Amsterdam’s northeast, on the manmade Java Island, Brantasgracht, Lamonggracht, Majanggracht and Seranggracht are the city’s newest canals. 19 young architects designed modern reinterpretations of classic canalside houses. Each design is unique, and the canals also feature decorative metal bridges. Java Island is a bit out of the way, but well worth a visit: the Venice of the North is alive and well.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum
A magnificent building with a collection to match, this is the Netherlands' most popular national museum.
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
At the heart of the art district, this street is home to many of Amsterdam's premier galleries and antique dealers.
Diamant Museum
The Diamond Museum Amsterdam is a museum located at the Museumplein in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Rembrandt's The Night Watch
One of Rembrandt's most famous paintings, which demonstrates his mastery of chiaroscuro, is one of The Rijksmuseum's must sees.
The Dutch Golden Age
After the 80 years war, the Dutch Republic flourished with scientific and artistic revival. See the way artistic subjects change during this period at the Rijksmuseum.
Heineken Experience
Interactive tour through beer giant's history in former brewery, with a tasting room finale.

Related Tours

The Best of Amsterdam: Private Full-Day Tour with a Canal Cruise
Explore the major sights and hidden gems of Amsterdam on this immersive full-day tour of the Dutch capital. With an expert guide, discover Amsterdam's vibrant culture, architectural beauty and eccentricity, intricate canal network, kilometres of cycle tracks, the city's top two museums, its major monuments and lively markets. End your day with a fabulous cruise along the canals. 

On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • Start the day with a fascinating tour of the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the artist's life and work - with a huge number of self-portraits and the only surviving photo; 
  • Admire such iconic masterpieces as the Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, the Yellow House, the Bedroom and his very last work, Tree Roots
  • Learn about Vincent Van Gogh's passionate life and mental health issues through his art, his letter exchanges with his brother Theo, and through his contemporaries such as Gauguin; 
  • Hear what happened on that fateful night with the knife and his ear, and the questions around his tragic death by gunshot;
  • Take a short comfort break before a guided tour of the highlights of the impressive Rijksmuseum;
  • Admire the architecture of the National Museum of the Netherlands, the 80 galleries that house some 8000 pieces of art and artefacts showing the history of Holland from the 1200s to the present day;
  • Explore the breathtaking collection of art by the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age such as Rembrandt and Vermeer;
  • Enjoy a well-deserved lunch break in the foodie Jordaan district, at a place recommended by your guide;
  • Stroll the highlights of the city centre in the afternoon and discover the canal and cycle networks, the historic buildings and famous monuments;
  • Walk by Anne Frank’s house and hear the tragic story of how the Franks were betrayed and sent to the concentration camps where all died, except Anne's father Otto who published her famous diary; 
  • See the famous and historic Torensluis Bridge, Westerkerk, Dam Square with the royal palace, and the smallest house in Amsterdam;
  • Explore the famously beautiful Bloemenmarkt Flower Market and learn the history of Dutch tulips;
  • Finish the day with tickets to enjoy a one-hour public boat trip on the UNESCO World Heritage canal ring of Amsterdam.

Spend the morning exploring Amsterdam's top two museums: the Van Gogh Museum dedicated to the life and works of Vincent, and the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, as impressive for its architecture as for its amazing collections of historic artefacts and paintings by the Masters of the Dutch Golden Age like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Dyck. 

Hop on a tram to explore the beautiful, bohemian Jordaan District and stop for lunch in the area (price not included) which was once traditionally a rather poor neighbourhood, attracting amazing artists and poets, including Rembrandt and the famous 17th-century Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel. 

After lunch, enjoy an in-depth orientation tour of the city centre. See the highlights of Amsterdam including the Torensluis Bridge, Westerker, and the Anne Frank House.   Visit the world-famous floating Flower Market, which has floated on Amsterdam’s innermost canal since 1862. 

See Dam Square, which came by its name the same way Amsterdam did: it began life as a dam of the Amstel River nearly 750 years ago. As the city grew so did the dam, until it became large enough for a town square, and it has been at Amsterdam’s heart ever since! It is also home to a royal palace. 

At the end of the tour your guide will walk you to the dock to join your Public Canal Cruise, to do one of the most iconic things in Amsterdam: see the city by water. Your cruise will take you through the warren of the city's canals, now listed as a World Heritage site. A perfect way to end the day! 
Explore Amsterdam Highlights: Private Half-Day Walking Tour

Explore the highlights of Amsterdam, the charming Dutch capital famous for its cobblestone streets, iconic canal network, hundreds of old stone bridges, kilometres of cycle paths, beautiful architecture, and vibrant culture on this half-day walking tour with an expert guide. Also included, are tickets for a scenic cruise along the city's famous canals to enjoy at your leisure after the tour.

On your private tour, you will: 

  • Meet your expert guide in the Bohemian, hipster neighbourhood of Jordaan
  • Pass by Anne Frank’s house to hear about the history of the writer's house and her family’s tragic story;
  • See the famous Torensluis Bridge and Westerkerk;
  • Explore Dam Square, home to the iconic Koninklijk Palace, a royal residence;
  • See the smallest house in Amsterdam;
  • Explore the pretty Bloemenmarkt Flower Market that famously floats on the water; 
  • Learn the history of Dutch tulips;
  • Pass by the Waag, a 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square;
  • See some of the 513km of the city's cycle paths;
  • End your tour on a scenic one-hour boat trip on the UNESCO World Heritage canal ring of Amsterdam


Your tour begins in the beautiful Jordaan District, historically an impoverished neighbourhood, that later attracted artists and poets, including Rembrandt and the famous 17th-century Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel. Now, it is a bustling centre of creativity, full of young artists, entrepreneurs, and students taking their coffee in the myriad of artisanal cafes and restaurants.

As a centre of Calvinist religious reform, you will also see Amsterdam's Westerkerk, which at its completion in 1631, was one of the first-ever Protestant churches. Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk were originally built for Roman Catholic worship before the ‘Alteration,’ the bloodless Calvinist coup of 1578, that saw them converted.

See some of the city's hundreds of kilometres of cycle paths, admire the old stone bridges and especially the iconic Torensluis Bridge. Learn about the rise and fall of the Dutch East India Company and Amsterdam as the centre of the Dutch Golden Age.

From there, your guide will take you to Dam Square, which, along with the River Amstel lends its name to the city! It began life as a dam of the Amstel river nearly 750 years ago. As the city grew so did the dam, until it became large enough for a town square; the dam of Amstel became Amsterdam!

Paved with the Dutch capital’s distinctive cobblestones, the square today is a great place to browse and people-watch among some of the city’s most notable attractions: Madame Tussaud’s, the 15th century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk, the Royal Palace and the swish department store De Bijenkorf are all here.

You’ll also have the chance to see the famous Bloemenmarkt, which has floated on Amsterdam’s innermost canal since 1862. Historically, barges used to sail up the Amstel from their smallholdings; today daily fresh flowers arrive by van, and fifteen florists and garden shops display their colourful wares in an array of covered stalls.

Your tour will finish with tickets to board a canal cruise, to see the city from the water, one of the most iconic things to do in Amsterdam!

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